From July 1, Hansa Bussiliinid is set to take over operations of Tartu County bus services from current provider AS GoBus. The county's main bus routes will remain unchanged. However, some of the less-used routes are to be closed with additional services also introduced to better meet passenger demand.
However, all existing transport cards are to remain valid and passengers will not be required to purchase new bus cards in order to travel.
AS GoBus' eight-year contract to operate on the bus routes of Tartu County is coming to an end. Following a public procurement procedure, AS Hansa Bussiliinid was awarded the contract to become the new operator at a price of €1.26 per line kilometer, starting this July. The contract means Hansa Bussiliinid will run the main bus routes in Tartu County until the end of September 2028.
Maikl Aunapuu, head of the Tartu County's public transport center, said that from July, Hansa Bussiliinid will be bringing 63 brand new golden buses to the Tartu County routes, providing passengers even more comfort than before.
"The buses have low boarding, which makes it easier for people with reduced mobility to get onto the bus. The buses are equipped with spaces for wheelchairs and pushchairs. An interesting new feature is that there are USB sockets next to each pair of seats, where passengers can charge their phones during the journey. We are also installing interior signage in the buses to show [passengers] the next three bus stops," explained Aunapuu.
The introduction of this on-board information will be a first for Estonia's county lines. According to Aunapuu, this will provide passengers with more and better information about the upcoming stops, allowing them to begin preparing to depart the bus in a timely manner.
While the introduction of a new operator will not affect Tartu County's main bus routes, there are set to be a number of changes to the network from July 1.
Some of the county's least used bus routes will be closed, while extra routes are to be and some existing ones extended in order to better meet passenger demand.
"None of the routes that people use regularly will be abandoned. A number of new stops will also be introduced. For example, there will now be a direct connection between Laeva and Tabivere, which did not previously exist. In terms of cancellations, some of the Elva-Tartu departures for instance, which have begun to overlap with the departure times of a passenger train travelling in the same direction have been discontinued. In order not to duplicate these [train] times, those departures have been cancelled and then moved to other times, which are more convenient for passengers," said Aunapuu.
The number of passengers using Tartu County's regional bus lines has seen an increase in recent years. Between 2021 and 2022, passenger numbers were up almost 23 percent. At the same time, the total length of the county's bus lines has also increased. The lenght of Estonia's bus network has also grown, from 3.4 million line kilometers in 2015, to its current total of 4.3 million.
Editor: Michael Cole